La Hacienda's Treatment and Recovery Blog

What Is Greening Out?

Almost everyone knows what blacking out means — when a person drinks too much alcohol and can’t remember what happened. However, “greening out” is an unfamiliar concept for many people. It happens when someone consumes too much cannabis, causing uncomfortable physical and psychological symptoms.

Unlike alcohol, marijuana is not a depressant. It is a psychoactive drug that affects the central nervous system, resulting in an altered state of mind and consciousness. This means that consuming too much marijuana via smoking or eating cannabis to the point of greening out has potentially severe adverse effects on the body and brain.

Read on to learn more about how to prevent greening out, its symptoms, and how to address this issue.

How Much Is Too Much Cannabis?

Cannabis refers to the products derived from the cannabis sativa plant, which contains various compounds that produce psychoactive effects. These compounds are called cannabinoids and include:

  • THC (tetrahydrocannabinol): This is the primary psychoactive compound in marijuana that causes users to get high.
  • CBD (cannabidiol): This non-psychoactive compound in cannabis is gaining popularity for its therapeutic effects.

While THC and CBD are the most prominent cannabinoids, the cannabis sativa plant also contains 100 other cannabinoids contributing to its psychoactive effects.

People often use cannabis and marijuana interchangeably. However, marijuana is a specific part of or a product from the cannabis sativa plant that contains high levels of THC. Marijuana products have various forms and strains with different levels of THC.

What is the Amount Needed to Green Out?

The amount of marijuana needed to green out varies from person to person. Each person’s endocannabinoid system reacts differently to THC, so the amount of marijuana required to green out may be less for some people than others.

Factors such as body weight, exposure to cannabis, and the product’s potency all influence how much is too much for an individual.

Those without previous experience in the consumption of cannabis may get high from a small amount and are more likely to experience a green out. In contrast, frequent users may have built up a tolerance to THC and need more than usual to experience the harmful effects of a green out.

The manner of consuming cannabis can also make a difference. For example, smoking weed leads to more rapid absorption of THC than consuming cannabis edibles. Additionally, CBD oil or tinctures may have a slower effect than other products with marijuana or CBD.

In a 2021 study of cannabis use for a medical condition, the daily recommended dosage for THC can start from 2.5 or 5 mg up to a maximum of 40 mg. However, the dosage depends on a person’s needs and medical indications.

How Do You Experience Greening Out?

Consuming too much cannabis can cause the user to experience greening out. Some situations that can lead to a green out include the following.

Smoking Weed Excessively

Whether as a recreational activity or as a medical treatment, most cannabis users smoke weed frequently. Most of the time, they don’t realize how much they’ve smoked. This leads to the consumption of too much weed, resulting in greening out.

Too Much Weed – Using Potent Marijuana

The potency of different cannabis products varies greatly. The higher the THC content, the quicker the user gets high. If a user consumes highly potent marijuana or cannabis products, they are at risk of a green out.

Mixing Cannabis With Too Much Alcohol

Mixing marijuana with alcohol or other drugs can have dangerous, unpredictable effects. Combining these substances is called crossfading, increasing the chance of greening out. Crossfading can also lead to accidents, overdoses, and other adverse health risks.

Ingesting Man-made Cannabis

Manufacturers of artificial cannabis products are increasing. Cannabis users must be careful of these products since they are often more potent than natural marijuana. Synthetic cannabis is also more unpredictable and can lead to greening out faster.

What Are the Symptoms of Greening Out?

The common symptoms of greening out include:

  • Anxiety
  • Limb heaviness
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Panic attack
  • Disorientation
  • Confusion
  • Agitation
  • Mild hallucinations
  • Increased heart rate
  • Decreased blood sugar
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Thinner blood vessels

Greening out symptoms can be mild to severe, usually fading within a few hours. However, in severe cases, users may experience delusions and hallucinations lasting for weeks.

What Can You Do if Someone Is Greening Out?

There are ways to help someone who is greening out. You can also share these tips with family and friends who take marijuana products.

5 Tips for Managing a Green Out:

  • Keep Calm: Major symptoms of greening out are increased heart rate and anxiety, so remain calm. If you are with someone experiencing a green out, talk to them soothingly, ask them to take deep breaths, or play their favorite music.
  • Don’t Be Alone: Greening out can also cause mild hallucinations and confusion. It’s best to take to not be alone and if with someone you are with is experiencing a green out, stay with them and take them to a safe space until they feel better.
  • Monitor Their Actions and Condition: Observe them, and be prepared to react accordingly.
  • Stay/Keep Them Hydrated: Staying hydrated helps reduce the symptoms of greening out. Drink water or fruit juice to increase their blood sugar.
  • Seek Medical Attention: If your or their condition gets severe or starts to become violent, seek medical help immediately.

Greening out can be terrifying for users and the people around them. In the event of a green out, seek medical assistance immediately to manage psychological symptoms and reduce the risks of severe health complications.

What Are the Dangers of Greening Out?

Greening out results in uncomfortable symptoms and detrimental effects if left untreated. Potential dangers with frequent or intense greening out include the following.

Risk of Accidents

Greening out may cause dizziness, nausea, and vomiting. It can also impair motor coordination, reaction time, and judgment, increasing the risk of accidents or injuries. These symptoms are hazardous when driving or operating machinery.

Adverse Effects on Mental Health

Greening out can harm mental health over time. Users may experience intense psychological distress, depersonalization, derealization, and losing touch with reality. It can also increase the risk of developing or exacerbating mental conditions like anxiety disorders, psychosis, and schizophrenia.

Poisoning and Overdose

Cannabis edibles have slow effects, which can often lead to overconsumption. Edibles are unpredictable and can cause poisoning or overdose. The CDC reports increasing accidental marijuana poisonings in children who mistake edibles for food or candy. 

While the National Cancer Institute states it’s unlikely to fatally overdose from cannabinoids, overconsumption can lead to addiction and other adverse conditions.

Marijuana Abuse and Addiction

Several factors contribute to marijuana abuse and addiction, including:

  • Age
  • Frequency and intensity of use
  • Method of consumption
  • Family background
  • Peer pressure
  • Environment
  • History of mental health or substance problems

Greening out leads to an increased risk of tolerance, abuse, and addiction.

The CDC estimates 3 in 10 users have a marijuana use disorder, and cannabis users have a 10% likelihood of becoming addicted. What’s more disturbing is that 23 million Americans over 12 require treatment for substance abuse disorders, but only 10% receive the help they need.

Find the Help You Need at La Hacienda Addiction Treatment Center

If you, a friend, or a loved one is struggling with greening out or cannabis addiction, La Hacienda Treatment Center can help. We’ll assess your condition and create a personalized addiction treatment program to help you recover. From medical detox to 24/7 nursing care to excellent clinical guidance, we’ll guide you on your journey to sobriety.

Contact us today to start your recovery.